Working 9-5 in the 80's

In 1987 I worked as a Trainee Payroll Clerk in the Department of Social Services in the Leeds City Council central offices, it was my first job and I was eager to learn and earn!  Queue Dolly…

I opened my pay packet (yes in those days we got a weekly pay packet filled with money (millennials look away now!).

I worked 35 hours a week at £3.40 per hour, and in 1987 it was a small fortune. 


Needless to say, that after I paid my parents 'board money' (millennials again look away!) With hair possibly bigger than my future and shoulder pads that would put any quarterback to shame, I was a happy gal about town spending my money on driving lessons, holidays and of course 80's fashion.  But what did I wear…


Eat your heart out Madonna! 

At the time in Leeds there were 3 main shops that I would frequent and choose my perfect Bananarama outfit (yes I also dressed like this!)  Finding the perfect accessories to perfect the look was crucial!

Everyone did a 'lay-away' plan on the items that we wanted as often they cost around the equivalent of 2-3 weeks wages. 

Paying for goods in stages was the norm back then, we all did it and it meant that we could buy beautiful clothes, look forward to paying the last payment and then take them home yay!! 

Unwrapping the items which were enveloped in special tissue paper, putting them on and admiring them for hours was an amazing feeling and one which I miss today - I still have some clothes from then. Each time I wore my jewellery it was ceremonious: putting it on knowing that it was made of good quality and receiving many compliments.

Now let's fast forward to 2020 are you ready for a shocking fact?  Read on…

The biggest shock to me in 2020 is not the fact that we no longer buy clothes this way, it's the fact that in 2020 in the UK there are people earning the same hourly salary as I did in 1987 ... I'm going to let that sit there for a moment...

Same hourly rate as in 1987.

But how can this be?

Here in the UK? 


If you read the Financial Times article on Labour exploitation inBritain’s garment industry you will have been as shocked as me (by the way I don’t read the FT often, it was in the dentist and I was bored, just to be clear).

Mostly situated in and around the City of Leicester approximately 10,000 people work in several factories producing fashion and textiles and an uncomfortable number are earning way below minimum wage. 

Some of the factory owners were offering a wage of £3.00 to £3.50 per hour to their young workers which is way below minimum wage of £8.21 for over 25's.

So called 'fast-fashion' means that 'straight off the catwalk' copies are made in small batches, turned around quickly and on your doorstep in and all in record time. A dress for £10 or a necklace for £2 to be worn once, discarded and then sit in landfill for years, and this is repeated over and again.

Low wages, unsafe working conditions a lack or suppression of union representation could perhaps be the true cost of the items..

Stacey Dooley also reported another shocking fact about who else pays the price for this ‘fast-fashion’…

Photo source: BBC / Stacey Dooley Investigates ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’.

The planet…

BBC’s Stacey Dooley uncovered 'Fashion's Dirty Secret' reporting how toxic chemicals in the garment industry polluting waterways that millions of people rely on.

Alternative?  Conscious fashion.  I love the idea that you can buy something that has been ethically made either here or overseas, made with natural or recycled fibres and a fair wage paid to the person who made it so they can eat, take care of their family  - you know the basics. 

So here I am just a girl from North Yorkshire on a quest to drive my little jewellery business forward by thinking backwards (without Doc's DeLorean from Back to the Future!)   I'm just not going to buy cheap clothes and accessories, thinking only about who or where it was made and who paid the real price?  

Photo source: Spell/USA 

I love Innovative fashion brands like Spell and the Gypsy , Odd Molly & Sweaty Betty are leading the way globally and I hope others follow. carbon footprint offset as of June 2020  

Meanwhile I will be measuring my own impact, offsetting my business and personal carbon footprint with EcologiEcologi are an amazing organisation who plant trees and fund the world's best climate solutions.  

I'm on a mission to fund ways to improve my buying choices whilst recapturing that special feeling of my 'lay-away' fashion.

Which fashion conscious brands do you love and why? I would love to hear your recommendations below, oh and no comments on my 80's hair please...... oh what the heck go for it! 

Shelagh Dixon


'Walking softly on this planet' #theBardotway...